The faces of Francophonie : portrait of the participants of the 8th Games in Abidjan
This serie of portraits was produced as part of the competition of the Francophonie games in Abidjan. The exercise was very interesting on several levels:
– The duration of creation which was very short obliged me quickly to find a subject which corresponds to me.
– The conditions of creation that were not the ones I usually know encouraged me to adapt and appropriate a new territory.
– Work with 25 photographers from around the world. We spent 10 days together and it’s a bit like working for months together! The competition has given way to solidarity, mutual help, good humor and friendship.
– The surprise and joy of having participated in the development of a new collective exhibition in 3 days! The surge of self that this exercise required resulted in a quality photographic exhibition, with very rich and varied artistic points of view.
Why I did not choose a topic about Abidjan
It was not the desire that I missed. And it is at this level I think I felt the most jostled: seeing how other photographers managed to appropriate this new unknown territory that was Abidjan while I remained as withdrawn, shy, unable to create an image. With hindsight I realize that I underestimated the change of scenery, this positive shock that was for me this first trip to West Africa.
This experience made me take a step back on my way of understanding photography. It was only during this trip that I realized how much my photography depended on human interaction. For me it would have been necessary to stay one more month in Abidjan so that I begin to make contact with the population to then consider myself legitimate to photograph it.
Once this was done, I realized that I was so focused on a topic to find for the games that I forgot that the games themselves were a subject. And suddenly, I had my new topic! The participants of the games: 4000 people from 50 different countries gathered for 10 days in a village for a common purpose. The games of the Francophonie were going to become my portrait studio!
So I asked participants to settle in front of a black background that I had brought to photograph them.. No artificial light, only the daylight, the light of Abidjan. I tried to represent the most different countries through these portraits. Photographers, athletes, coaches, volunteers … these are the people I wanted to show to the public, these people who for 10 days were like a new family for me. A francophone family without borders.
These portraits are part of my notebook of memories brought back from Abidjan.
The portraits :